Two soldiers, two mobile policemen and about 23 others were on Wednesday killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen during a fierce battle at Dung Kasa, Rafiki and Dutse Kura communities in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Two civilians were killed with houses razed and cars burnt during an attack
“Again and again the marauding Fulani terrorists still again killed two soldiers, two mobile police officers. The death toll is now two MOPOL, two soldiers and two civilians, making it seven,” an eyewitness stated.
But the Nigerian Army, only confirmed the death of the two soldiers.
According to the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, in a statement late on Wednesday, seven suspects had been arrested, while a number of weapons were recovered from them.
The army said 23 dead bodies were also discovered in Mararaba Dare area as the herdsmen opened fire on the troops’ convoy and the residents.
Chukwu said, “Troops of 3 Division Garrison, Jos arrested seven suspects and recovered weapons in the clash between Miango community and herdsmen at Rafiki village on Wednesday. The troops responded to distress calls to the clash reported by locals.
“As troops moved in to settle the dispute, the herdsmen opened fire on them. Two soldiers paid the supreme price and seven suspects were arrested in connection with the clashes.
“While conducting search, troops discovered 23 dead bodies at Mararaba Dare shortly before Rafiki village and many civilians were wounded. Two other soldiers wounded are receiving medical attention at 3 Division Military Hospital and Medical Services. They are stable.
“Weapons recovered include one Ak 47 assault rifle with 26 rounds of 7.62mm special and one locally made single barrel loaded with 15 rounds. Troops have intensified patrol within the general area to forestall further break down of law and order.”
The PUNCH learnt that immediately after the killing of the five security operatives and two civilians, Governor Simon Lalong called an emergency security meeting from where a decision was taken to impose dusk to dawn curfew.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Rufus Bature, in a statement after the meeting, said the state had declared curfew in Bassa Local Government Area of the state after consultation with security agencies.
He added that the curfew would be within 6pm and 6am daily.
The SSG called on the affected communities to embrace peace, assuring them that efforts were on to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the problem.
“Consequently, security agencies in area have been mandated to enforce the curfew.
“Law abiding citizens are advised go about their lawful businesses,’’ he said.
The President of the Miango Youths Development Association, Lawrence Zongo, had earlier announced the latest attacks in a WhatsApp message to The PUNCH on Wednesday.
He gave the names of those receiving medical attention at the Enos Hospital as Danladi Rigye (35), Audu Ivy (23), Sunday Friday (17), Weyi Ishaya (25), Bala Musa (26), Yakubu Davo (25) and Jerry John (40).
Others are Timothy John (19), Abbah Audu (19), Sunday John (21), Daniel Audu (24) and Yakubu John (22).
Zongo said, “There was a fresh attack this (Wednesday) around 6.30 am on Dung Kasa, Rafiki and Dutse communities. Two persons have died; more than seven people have been seriously injured by Fulani terrorists.
“One person is missing. Yet, the Nigerian Army failed to arrest the Fulani terrorists but were busy protecting them and asking our vigilantes what they have to offer them.
“This is getting too much as people in Rafiki and Dutse Kura where there is a clash between the local vigilantes and Fulani terrorists to protect the people within the attacked areas. Since the Nigerian Army cannot protect us, we have to protect ourselves.
“We appreciate the efforts of management of Enos Hospital and Bingham University Teaching Hospital in Jos for taking time in treating the injured once.”
Spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, confirmed the attack to one of our correspondents, but could not confirm the casualty figure.
He said, “Yes, I got information this (Wednesday) morning that there was an attack in the area. The information is sketchy, but what I can tell you is that we have deployed security personnel there. So, I am expecting feedback from the Divisional Police Officer of Dung Kasa.”
However, the Plateau State Government is considering the imposition of curfew in communities in Bassa and Bokkos Local Government Area where suspected Fulani herdsmen have killed over 30 persons in recent times, The PUNCH learnt on Wednesday night.
But as of the time of this report, the commissioner had yet to “get back” to our correspondent.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yakubu Dati, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the state was considering the idea.
Lalong later condemned the one week violence in Miango District of Bassa and Bokkos Local Government Areas.
While confirming that some arrests had been made, he said the peace and stability in the state was being threatened by evil forces determined to take the citizens back to the gory moments of the past.
Lalong in his Radio and Television broadcast to Plateau citizens on Wednesday night said government would render necessary support for those “who sustained varying degrees of injury” to overcome their losses and hurts.
He said, “My fellow citizens of Plateau State, it is with a heavy heart that I address you at this very critical moment: when the Peace and stability of our state is being threatened by evil forces determined to take us back to the gory moments of the past.
“Many of you must have heard of the recent attacks in Miango District of Bassa and Bokkos Local Government Areas respectively within the past one week. These series of systematic attacks orchestrated by armed men have led to the destruction of innocent lives and properties in these affected communities.
“As a responsible government that shares in the plight of its citizens, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the resurgence of violent attacks in some of our communities in Bokkos and Bassa Local Government Areas.
“Let me on behalf of the good and peace loving people of Plateau State commiserate with the families of those who have lost their dear ones in these series of attacks.
“I pray for the repose of the souls that were lost as a result of this renewed violence and also pray God to assuage the anguish of their bereavement.
“Let me also assure you of the unwavering commitment of our Administration to deliver on the promise of peace and security.
“Although this emerging conflict trend has affected our collective efforts to further consolidate the gains of our post conflict peace-building process, however our commitment to ensure the security of lives and property remains unshakable.
“As part of measures to in the interim arrest the vicious cycle of violent attacks, we are poised to immediately review our State security architecture while working closely with Security Agencies to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.